VBPD: No motive found yet in May 31 mass shooting


VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The Virginia Beach Police Department says nothing in the May 31 mass shooter’s past indicated he’d commit the atrocity, and a motive still hasn’t been uncovered despite many hours of investigative work.

Tuesday evening department leadership gave an update to Virginia Beach City Council and victims families on the status of their criminal investigation into the shooting that left 12 people dead and four others injured at Building 2 at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center.

It’s the first substantial release of information since June 3rd, in which suspect Dwayne Craddock’s resignation email was released. The 40-year-old city engineer was killed by police.

But prior to that, one of the more haunting details to be released was that by 4:06 p.m. when the first 911 call was received, 10 people were already dead.

But the detail that still cannot be answered: why?

“We have asked the question ‘why. Why did this suspect do what he did?’ We are still looking to determine motive,” said Deputy Chief Patrick Gallagher, head of the investigations division for Virginia Beach Police.

For a half-hour Gallagher outlined to Virginia Beach City Council what Police discovered after conducting more than 750 interviews and compiling more than 50,000 computer files.

Police said there were no indicators that gunman Dewayne Craddock would commit violence, such as emails, manifestos or affiliation to outside groups. They said rumors that a second person was involved were also found to be not true.

The gunman had no history of domestic violence, no documented threatening encounters with coworkers and no known mental health treatment. He had not been to a doctor in two years.

Gallagher said when it came to the shooting itself, there was no pattern to the victims targeted.

“He shot people he knew and he shot people he did not know,” Gallagher said. He also elected not to shoot people.

Craddock worked as a public utilities engineer in February 2010 and was promoted in August 2011. Gallagher said co-workers interviewed described him as quiet, polite, a nice guy and a good listener.

However it was in 2017 when Craddock divorced his wife of 9 years that family members describe him as becoming isolated, introverted, paranoid and uncomfortable around people.

At work, 2017 is when Gallagher said Craddock was placed on and completed Performance Improvement Plan. In 2018, he received “Improvement Required” on his evaluation. Gallagher said it was in that year that he received written reprimand for performance issues from his immediate supervisor. A supervisor who was not present during the shooting a year later.

However police support former City Manager Dave Hansen’s claim made two days after the shooting that Craddock was in “in good standing” in his department. Gallagher said in 2019 he was expected to achieve a satisfactory performance evaluation.

He worked nearly a full day on the day of the massacre, sending a work related email just 5 minutes before going out to his car to get his gun.

The only indication of the violence to come came around 10 a.m. when Craddock began to search Building 2, emergency communications and municipal center maps on his computer.

The next thing Craddock did was send his resignation letter to his immediate supervisor saying he must resign for “personal reasons.”

It took just over 37 minutes from the time the 911 call came in until the gunman was in custody Gallagher explained.

The shootout with police actually happened through a closed wooden door, Gallagher said. An officer was able to shoot the suspect, but it took over 28 minutes before he was eventually taken into custody. In that time an officer was struck by gunfire, but was saved by a bulletproof vest.

The door where the shootout took place

The gunman was eventually apprehended and taken to the hospital, but died about an hour later.

There is still more than 6-terabytes of data that need to be looked through according to Gallagher. VBPD is also still waiting for the FBI to complete its investigation. A final draft report is not expected to be complete for another 6 to 9 months police say.

I don’t think that there is any doubt to anybody who has just listened to the factual data that has been given that these detectives and their supervisors are working diligently to try to figure out why things happened,” said Chief Jim Cervera, of the Virginia Beach Police. “We may never get there but it’s not for lack of trying.”

Only Councilwoman Rosemary Wilson, At-Large, asked a brief question following the briefing.

Family members present in council chambers were left frustrated. Many have been pushing for answers, skeptical of what the city has reported.

“I don’t think they have the full truth yet,” Jason Nixon, widow of Katherine Nixon, said following the briefing. “And they said the investigation is not over yet so maybe they’ll find it.”

Nixon wants to hear from H.R. because he doesn’t believe all concerning interactions with Craddock may have been recorded.

Denise A. Smallwood, the twin sister of Josh Hardy, who died in the shooting, also said she was disappointed with the lack of substantial findings.

“He didn’t just decide one day to go shoot innocent people, nobody does that its a series of events that caused that,” Smallwood said.

Watch the full presentation from VBPD and Hillard Heintze below:

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